Sunday, December 11, 2011

In your 54th week. . .

Dear Tenacious E:

You've been in our family for a year now.  In a way, it feels like you have always been here - or, rather, like the idea of you has been here so much longer than you have.  I've been thinking of you as the exclamation point at the end of our family sentence, because you are all BIFF - BAM - and BLAMMO, but you are so much more than metaphorical punctuation.

You will know, eventually, the stories of the nameless brothers(?) and sisters (?) that paved your way here - how your father and I felt our family was complete with Monkeymoo and the Budge but then that Valentine's Day surprise in '09 stuck around just long enough for us to envision our family big enough for one more person.  You'll know the long days to follow and how close we got to giving up - how if our family wasn't going to grow, we'd come to understand that that was okay too.  One day I'll tell you the story of that positive test on the day after St. Patty's day - how my calendar that month said "Once More With Feeling" and how I walked out with a test with two pink lines and told your father and he replied "I think I have to go to the emergency room" because his appendix was ready to rupture.  You didn't come from the auspicious beginnings of the EPT commercial - the smiling man and woman in a soft-glowing light and not anywhere near disgusting bathroom beaming over a stick with the sure knowledge that in nine short months they would be holding a baby.  You came in joy and anxiety and frustration and fear and more joy and as the weeks passed and you grew it was more and more and more joy. The moment before you were born, I nearly passed out because I couldn't breathe.  I couldn't breathe under the weight of our anxieties and hopes and dreams for you.

And now you are here and you are amazing and tenacious and sneaky and smart.  Your father and I knew we would be outnumbered when you got here - but we underestimated the ramifications, the exhaustion, and the delight.

Thank you for rounding out our family. Thank you for grabbing my nose in the middle of the night and squealing "honk".  And thank you for being all energy and elbows and wide-eyes and need. Most importantly, thank you for coming to us.  We are so happy you are here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

6 Seasons and a MOVIE!

Yesterday was my birthday.  In honor of my turning 35, NBC decided to give me the worst present ever and retool their fall schedule.  In doing so, somebody clearly got drunk and forgot to put the Community magnet back on the Thursday night board.  In fact, they dropped it behind the desk or something and omitted it altogether. 

Did somebody call NBC a network-shaped toilet?
Now look, I realize the ratings are low - but the quality is high.  Yes, yes, yes, that didn't save Arrested Development  - but look at the post-AD-buzz that *still* survives. 

Honestly, NBC, if you cancel Community, you'll probably be punished via Troy and Abed suicide pact. . . 

Friday, November 11, 2011

'Tis the Season to eat some fucking turkey. . .

Okay, okay, normally I save my curses for the body of the post, but I can't help it.  I'm going to write a bitching little post about something that is near and dear to me: the month of November.

I'm sure you've seen this. It's floating around Facebook:
Yeah it's from a few years ago but that's not the point. 
November is a special time in our house.  It's Birthday Month!  My younger sister, my two daughters, and I all have November birthdays.  November 29th is my mother and stepfather's wedding anniversary (their 24th, I believe). All Saints Day (11/1). World AIDS day (11/1).  Veteran's Day (11/11).  Nigel Tufnel Day (also 11/11/11). There are elections the first week of November.  And the whole month is Native American Heritage Month, National Diabetes Awareness month. Then there's Thanksgiving.  And Black Friday (or Shop Main Street or better yet Buy Nothing day!). 

And only then - THEN when the turkey has made us all sleepy and we've watched Nebraska play Iowa, THEN it's time to allow Christmas to creep in. 

And YOUR TURN comes after ADVENT.
I'd say I'm sounding like my stepfather, except my stepfather was a Godly man who never cursed.  But the next holiday after Thanksgiving is Advent.  The great waiting.  When we anticipate Christmas. 

And before you go on calling me a grinch - I love Christmas. It's sparkly and shiny and lights are pretty and who doesn't love CHRISTMAS.  And let me tell you something I love about Christmas - tough as it is, I love that moment in the morning that we grudgingly get out of bed and pad into the living room and get really excited and then OMGOMGOMGCANWEPLEASEOPENIT? PLEASE???

Playing Christmas music in November - in early November - it's the equivalent of chucking some unwrapped presents under the tree.  I want the holiday to remain special which means I refuse to spend 1/6th of the year celebrating it.  I used to think 12 days was a long time to celebrate Christmas. . . 

So here, on the day after Thanksgiving, I will (grudgingly - it's far too early for my liking) decorate the tree.  It will come down on Epiphany when Christmas is over. 

Do I blame you for wanting to celebrate Christmas already?  No, I don't. It's awesome. It's special. It's super cool.  But it's awesome special and super cool because we don't do it every day.  Once we do, it's meaningless. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I've got them mid-semester blues. . .

the ones where I feel like a terrible teacher and a terrible wife and a terrible parent and all I want is a snow day except not a real snow day just a day with snow but all the kids can go to school including the baby so I can eat bon bons and sit on my butt drinking coffee with Baileys in it.

You get those too, right?

The days where you want a warm blanket and to hide from the world?

That's where I am. It's OK. I'm ok.  I'm going to knead up some sort of tasty bread product, make some soup, and reevaluate my expectations.

Because it's hard to feel like a failure when you can make bread.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dear Humans,

Please, for the love of all things holy, put down your phones.

This morning, a student came to ask me a question about material covered in class.  She did so while reading her Facebook feed.  Through her phone.  Which she was also using to listen to music through Pandora.  Through her phone.  As I answered her, I realized she was not listening to me.  Or looking at me.

I finished class and went to leave campus - at which point a girl who was texting while driving practically ran head-on into me as she was driving through the parking lot.

I drove two blocks and was nearly hit again by somebody talking on their phone while driving.

I'll be honest:  I love my phone.  I don't have to worry about terrifying payphones and their germs and availability.  My husband can find me.  I can ask quick questions of my friends via text while the baby screams at me (often those questions go something like this: "Why is the baby screaming at me?"). I can contact just about anyone just about any time about just about anything. . . which is cool.

And also not.  Because I didn't need to update my boot order from the doctor's waiting room.  Nor do I need to text a picture of a car to my husband while I'm driving.  Nor do my students need Facebook updates from the classroom.

Here's the thing: My life is important to me.  And yours should be important to you.  So on this little thing, even if you keep texting in the classroom, can we please, please, PLEASE agree to put down the phones while we're driving?

Pretty please?

That post about 9/11. . .

Everybody, it seems, had one on 9/11 and I couldn't manage to wrap my head around what I wanted to say.  I know that 9/11 was this pivotal historical event that changed the face of the United States, or, some might even argue, the world.

But it changed me - truly and deeply.  And not, I guess, in the ways that you might imagine.

The morning of 9/11, I rolled out of bed at my boyfriend's house and got ready to go teach.  He and I were doing well - though if I'm being honest (and hindsight gives me that privilege) we were ignoring a few 800lb gorillas in the room of our relationship. Like everyone, I listened in horror.  I watched Tom Brokaw choke back tears as the towers fell.  Then I crawled into my car, drove past a nuclear plant, and faced a classroom of 23 eighteen-year-olds in what felt, then, like the most agonizingly long 75 minutes of my life.

Because I had nothing for them.  Now, 10 years later, I see that as a watershed moment in my teaching career - standing up in front of 23 students and saying "I don't know" felt like the wrong thing to do that day - but it turns out that not only was it the right thing to do then, it's nearly the right thing for me to do every day.  "I don't know but let's learn more about it" is practically a mantra in my modern classroom.  But that day?  It was hard and it was scary and we watched the vague outlines of smoking rubble through the television fuzz in our classroom and we said very little.

That night, I went back to my boyfriend's house and witnessed something that, to this day, makes me hopeful and happy.  One at a time, our friends - local poets and artists and lovers of poetry and art - they rolled over to my boyfriend's small (and I do mean small!) home with words and song and poetry and a general need to come together and create - to somehow strike a balance for the universe in the face of such dark destruction.  My friend Steve brought his guitar and the lyrics to "This Land is Your Land."  My friend Prudencio brought his djembe.  Eventually there were people making rhythms on tables and pots and pans and notebooks and the backs of guitars, there was clapping, there was a room full of people searching for meaning in the creation of a thing - something - in love, in life, in music, in art.

Since then, when I think of the powerlessness I felt the morning of 9/11, I always reflect on that evening on our response - this impromptu gathering of good people forced by the universe to come together and make something good.  Together.  And while I am not grateful for the events of 9/11 and several decisions our nation made afterward, I will always remember with fondness this circle of friends who coped through creation.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nothing is more memorable than a smell

Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years.  Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once.  A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.  ~Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

Yesterday, I chopped garlic and onions in my kitchen while ground beef sizzled on the stove and after a deep breath, I was 12 or 13 in my mother's kitchen talking with my stepfather. When I walk past the smokers on campus, it is, at once, my father (again I am 12 or 13 or so - he quit smoking when I was 14) and my college years.  Lightning (yes, it has a smell, which science has taught me is ozone) is my wedding day.  Pabst Blue Ribbon and cooked cabbage (because that's a combo you encounter often!) is my grandmother - but only with an entire Thanksgiving dinner behind it. Sawdust is my father again.  Baby powder is fairly meaningless, but lavender shampoo and tea tree oil is my children's infancy. 

I leaned over yesterday and sniffed the most sniffable part of my youngests's head and I realized that she is on the precipice of toddlerhood.  To be clear, she's only 9 months old but she's losing her baby smell.  You know the smell. I know the smell, though there's no way to describe it except "the exact smell of every baby when they lay their head on your chest and you sniff the crown of their head."

But at some point between baby and toddler and kid, my kids seem to cast off the baby smell for the smell of sunshine and play, sunscreen and shampoo, and, strangely, at night when they are in their beds, Chinese food. Yesterday when I sniffed Elsa's head, I smelled sunshine and Chinese food masking out the undertones of baby. 

She's growing and it is truly bittersweet.  

I am delighted to watch her bloom - as I watch the other two bloom - but I remain saddened that soon the baby smell in this household will be a memory evoked only by sniffing the heads of other people's children and saying "Do you smell that?  Do you?  It's intoxicating.  It's baby."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just make 'em. . .

I have a friend who knows exactly how I feel when those words pop up, even though the end of the sentence for me (sleep) and for her (eat) is different.  Before I was a parent to my kids, I was under the impression that infancy was about telling them them how and when to do things and that soon they would control these things on their own.

My children disabused me of that notion. They have taught me that there are a few things parents simply cannot make their children do.  We can encourage, cajole, bribe, and reward, but we cannot control (barring medical intervention, I guess) their physical selves.

You cannot make a child sleep, eat, defecate, or urinate.

The sooner you, as a parent, let go of the idea that you can control this independent little person in those ways - the happier you'll be.  Again, I say, you can encourage, cajole, bribe, and reward, but you cannot control.

This is a secret most parenting books don't share.  The books - from sleep books to cookbooks to potty training books - act as though it is your parental duty to control these things in your child.  Your failure to do so sets them up for any wide variety of disorders and proclivities.

Are you listening to me?  The parenting manuals want you to know that YOU WILL FUCK YOUR KIDS UP if you do not make them bend to your will in terms of eating, sleeping, urinating, and defecating.

I have been a parent for 8 1/2 years now and over the course of the past 9 years I've read more books related to potty training, feeding children, and sleep training than I care to share.  I could probably dedicate an entire post to specific book reviews, outlining for you the very moment I cast the books across the room and cursed at their authors for making me feel like I had the ability - the right - and the duty - to control these things. A few are exempt - and even the ones that aren't have taught me a thing or two, so I don't protest reading.

I simply oppose the guilt that reading these books seems to create in my parenting friends. Instead, I offer this: Our kids are incredible, amazing creatures who often grow up to be incredible amazing adults despite our best parenting efforts.  I do not exempt you from your parenting duties, but there's freedom in that - in knowing that we do our best, we sometimes screw it up, sometimes the kids screw it up, and still, these kids?  My kids? They're full of awesome.

But you can't make 'em sleep.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The baby's mouth and what we've found there:

Baby E (Tenacious E and Honey Badger to those who know her well) is the adventurous sort and thus eating has been quite the ride for all of us in the NLMTYS household.  

There's a movement afoot called Baby Led Weaning which focuses on children being in charge of what they eat from an early age -- before weaning, solids are really more social than nutritive and thus the Baby Led Weaning idea focuses on self-feeding for the children.  Rather than shovel pureed peas and potted meats into the now-adventurous eating baby, you spread some food on their tray and go from there. 

Here in the NLMTYS household, we didn't really focus on BLW so much as ended up there out of necessity.  We have 2 other children, a geriatric cat, a frog, and some fish to take care of - so often sweet Baby E was a bit on her own in the feeding territory.  We started small and she'd rake handfuls of rice krispies into her mouth.  Little actually stuck and she got a few servings of rice cereal, pureed sweet potato, and some winter squash - but she, and we, soon grew tired of the process.  Baby E has MonkeyMoo and The Budge to keep up with and she wanted to eat like they ate.  So, for the most part, we let her - with some chopped up beans here and some banana spears there. 

Overall this has worked out very well for us.  Dinner time is as social as it can be with 3 overly tired and twitchy children.  Baby E barks out her rudimentary language at intermittent intervals, trying to fit in and keep up with the big kids. 

But you have to remember: babies are kind of stupid. 

Well, not stupid so much as inexperienced.  Inexperienced enough not to really know or understand the subtle difference between food and non-food items.  I think that introducing her to a world where SHE is in charge of shoveling things in her mouth (rather than her father, siblings, or me), may have upset the delicate balance that keeps her from eating, you know, trash. 

Or maybe she has pica.  Who am I to say? 

But I just wanted to run you through a brief laundry list of what we've found in Baby E's mouth since she began crawling five weeks ago: 

A button. Cat food, which she picked from cat vomit. An almond. Grass. The graphite powder that lined the track for the back door. Leaves.  Tiny bits of wood. Bigger bits of wood.  Cat hair. Garlic skins. Dog hair. Cat poop. Sand. Pebbles. A fairly large hunk of onion. A small bit of spicy jalapeno. A balloon.  A chunk of stomp rocket.  Herbs. A bit of silver ribbon.  A walnut.  Cords.  The tubes to the fish tank bubbler.  The fish tank bubbler.  A bug. As much of the sofa as was humanly possible.  Flip flops.  Crocs.  Aglets of any shape or size.*

*Incomplete list.  (And there will be no diaper-related addendum.  Nobody needs that.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm looking at my statistics and. . .

Google has referred 8 people here using searches related to the term "Sharpie." They have also referred 6 people here in the last month using the terms "Whose boob do I have to suck to get a drink around here." One reader came from the search terms "Apostrophe logo".  Finally, this month I have gotten - as I generally get - at least one person from the line "Life isn't bliss, Life is just this. . . it's living" from Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode.

I am delighted and terrified that people stumble upon me courtesy of my love for office supplies, grammar, and Joss Whedon.

Thanks for visiting, readers.  Good to have you here.

Side note:  Who's coming from Gothis?  I have no clue what that is and I keep getting hits from it, so I am curious. Leave a comment!  Tell me who you are!

Now I wonder how many potential readers these phrases might get:

XXX bikini girl


Chocolate Salted Caramel anything

Okay, okay, I'll stop boring the snot out of you.  Back to my cleaning. . .

Friday, September 2, 2011

And, by the way, just 6 days late:

Holy shit, you're like 9 months already
(a letter to my daughter)

So I know it's trite to say "It seems like just yesterday" and it doesn't seem like just yesterday - but in the blur of 9 months of diapers and sleeplessness, of vomiting and crying and learning to balance your needs with your siblings needs, in a summer of trying to keep quiet enough that your father can work, and those other months with school and schedules and trying to bend your will to the almighty nap, my dear, sweet HoneyBadger, it seems like a dream stuck inside of a moment I glimpsed just a few hours ago. . .  the moment of your birth seems both so close and yet so far away and me, I feel like I'm in some sort of final episode of Star Trek with a space-time continuum issue where you are at once not yet a person and a newborn and this big, opinionated child, ripping up the New Yorker as you chirp at my feet. 

You. are. amazing..  Fun and sweet and saucy.  And trouble.  I'm afraid to blink again and find you two and a whirlwind of determination and spunk. 

You're crawling and standing and cruising.  You're saying "Mama" in the middle of the night when you want my attention (and don't want to be alone!).  You're into everything.  If it's on the floor, it's in your mouth.  If it's in your mouth you swallow it and if you can't, you cast it aside and move on to new adventures with little more than a shrug. 

You are MonkeyMoo and The Budge's biggest fan.  When they walk into the room, you light up.  When they squeal in your face, you light up more.  When they shove you down, sit on you, or somehow topple you so you land on your head, you scream as though you've just encountered the greatest of tragedies.  They've gone back to school and now you crawl around the house during the day - I think you're looking for them. When you wake from your afternoon nap and they are home - you are delighted. 

Sweet girl - you're exactly what we were looking for through that tough journey to you.  Thank you for coming to us.  Thank you for having the tenacity to stick with us.  Here's to awesomeness, my Ninja Gingah. Now let's go cook dinner. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A new old project. . .

Today, I posted this photo on my Facebook page - inspired by Dear Photograph (which is an incredibly charming site full of joy and reflection - things I'd like to have MORE of in my life as I strive to let go of strife and grumbling and conflict and anger).

This is a picture of my mother, stepfather, and sweet Monkeymoo on our first 4th of July in this house. David putzed around in the yard practically all weekend on that trip (in fact, I feel like I should probably apologize for the vines creeping up the stairs, as he pulled them back and lovingly trimmed them on that trip - to help me bring our greenery under control).  We had such an excellent time.

The photo makes me realize how much I miss him - how lucky I am to have had him in my life and how very much I need to get back to something I started during NaNoWriMo of 2007 - a series of essays about him.  I began the project during National Novel Writing Month - not to write a novel but a collection of essays to capture what he meant to me  - to all of us - so that I could give it to his wife and daughters and grandchildren so that they could have something - a mere shadow of what he had been - but something tangible to revisit.  It was hard.  And it hurt.  And you can see that reflected in the essays on the page - which is why I had to carefully pack it away in a file folder and leave it for several years.

But I'm ready to revisit.  I'm ready to imbue it with the hope and light and happiness - the unconquerable spirit that he had.  I'm ready to work on it.  I have a goal in mind for finishing - we'll see if that happens.  But I'd like it to happen. Because I think it's time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Parenthood got me down? No way!

I've seen a few people write about this post on the Baby Project Blog @NPR.  The author maintains that parenting is hard and nobody lets us talk about it.  Hold on.  Say WHAT?

People don't talk about this enough. It's really hard, being a parent. At times, it's crushing. But you're never allowed to say this.

Excuse me?  Wait, what? I figure she's too busy with her children to log onto Facebook for the daily onslaught of parental complaints.  And somehow she's missed out on glorious ladies like Kate and Lydia at Rants from Mommyland (who seem to be, awesomely, EVERYWHERE these days!). Perhaps she missed drop-off at Preschool when at the very least one bedraggled sweat-pantsed lady talks about the tough morning they had rolling out of bed. The virtual mommy-water cooler is full of ladies are talking about being down - and getting right back up. 

But M, you say, she's not talking about tough days, she's talking about the grueling project of raising a child. 

But so am I.  I have never been made to feel that I can't talk about how tough this gig is. My youngest is 9 months old and I still get So how are things going? and Is she sleeping? and How's life with 3? and even the occasional Hey.  You ok? .  And the people who ask get answers.  They get honest answers that are multifaceted.  It's more than It's the toughest job I've ever loved! or I'm exhausted, but it's so rewarding!

I love parenting.  I'm 8 1/2 years in with three kids under my belt - dare I say it, I enjoy it.  I've learned that practically every tough time - the fourth wakeup by 1 am or the 5 year old screaming I hate you! are countered by snuggles and giggles and watching these little people discover a world that I've come to ignore. 
It *is* hard. And the best part about this gig is that nobody has ever made me feel bad for saying that.  
On the flip-side, though, I have discovered something about parenting.  I've discovered that those who are trying to become parents often encounter plenty of folks who work hard to discourage their expressions of frustration, anger, and loss.  Over the course of the last several years, I've met a whole lot of lovely ladies for whom the road to parenting has been hard.  And what do they hear when they talk about how tough it's been?  Relax!  It'll happen! or But you can do so much without babies! or Just think of all the things you can DO without kids!  or my personal favorite: If this doesn't work out, you can just adopt.  It seems that while people feel comfort in the Parenthood's-got-me-down persona, they often don't or won't acknowledge that Wanting-but-not-having-Parenthood is a whole other bag of got-me-downness that is all too often dismissed or ignored.

So to the parents I know who are feeling down: let's talk, like we always do.  And to the incredible people I know who are still somewhere on the road to parenthood: I'm here and I'll listen.  I can't pretend to understand, but I can promise not to dismiss your trials and tribulations. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Miscellany

1).  I did a photo spread with the Ging-ah and a gummy snake yesterday.  She's officially shed Tenacious E and Gingah and taken on a new nickname:  Honey Badger.  Randall can tell you all about it.

2). Speaking of Ginger:  I've had this song stuck in my head all week.  Of course, Honey badger isn't an official Ginger, she's a Ninja Gingah.

3).  I went to a friend's house today and she showered me with hand-me-downs.  Which is amazing and awesome and goes with the hand-me-downs I get from another friend and you know what?  EVERY time I dress Elsa, it's like shopping.  There's SO MUCH and it's so awesome.

4). The next time one of my children screams, I'm going to punch myself (couldn't finish this entry because all three children were screaming at me.  So I was busy punching myself in the face.  Oh yeah.).

5). Rebecca Black is obviously a child, because in MY house "It's Friday" means at approximately 3:47, this house will fall apart into shards of screaming children and fragments of pain doused with a healthy dose of starvation and omygodi'mgoingtodieifidon'teatsomethingnoooooowwwwwwwwwwwww.  In other words, there's no kickin' in the back seat or sittin' in the front seat.  Which seat do I choose?  The one on a train out of town for a girl's weekend, that's which one.

6). I've had "Come on Eileen" in my head since the news started covering hurricane Irene, except I switch Eileen to Irene. And then I feel like I might be taunting the hurricane which makes me feel bad.

7). Carter has a new daily exercise of claiming he's sick.  His throat no stomach no head no arms no legs no his pockets hurt.  We have a new daily exercise of not caring - but this leads to a conundrum as a parent, doesn't it?  Perhaps I need to read him Chicken Little, and not the movie version.  Or The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

8).  My son went to his first day of school in a tuxedo jacket, a tshirt, tux pants, and flip flops.  I've never been so proud.  What a good Colorado boy I have!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I swear I have something to say. . .

but it's going to have to wait until tomorrow.


I will, however, leave you with this, Andy Rooney style:

You know what I hate?

The word FINALLY.

Particularly when someone uses it in the sentence "My child is finally sleeping through the night" and their child is under a year old.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Repurposing for the BUDGE:

I'm on a repurposing kick.  Of course part of it is that I'm cheap.  Super cheap.  Another part is that the BUDGE is way way way skinny.  He's so skinny that his SLIM jeans fall down.  Unbelieveable, really.

So I found this tutorial and decided I'd go ahead and make some pants that fit.

I started with these awesome soft pants that Tim never really liked.  OK, I'll be honest, they were supposed to be dry clean.  Or, rather, they were Dry Clean Recommended.  And I didn't.  I mean, I rarely dry clean things that require dry cleaning so given the opportunity to skip it altogether, I did.  To, apparently, the detriment of the pants.  I don't know if they shrunk or what, but Tim no longer wore them.  It was sad and they languished in the basement pile of clothes (actually, they were slept upon by the cat) to be ironed.

 See how wrinkly?  Yeah, well, fortunately 5 year olds don't mind wrinkles.  So I ripped them apart while watching TV last night, then, today, using the aforementioned tutorial, I sewed them back together so that they looked like this:
 Okay, so there are a few problems.  I miscalculated a few things and, strangely, the Old Navy jeans I used as a pattern must hang VERY differently from these. . so I learned some lessons in draping and stuff.  Rather than being on the sides, the side seams sort of run at an angle around the boy's leg, but it gives them some personality which, to be frank, is fitting of The Budge.
Here's the back.  See those side seams sneaking back and across the back of the leg?  Again, clearly I'd be kicked off the Project Runway crew this week, but what the hell.  Like I said, the kid's five and pants are pants, right?

Edited to add a few things:
FIRST OFF:  They look much better now that they've been properly ironed and hemmed.  Not perfect, but OK.  Secondly, my mother patiently told me I cut them on the bias when I changed the angle -- which is, I guess, what I mean by "I need a Project Runway lesson in draping."  For real, people, it's the fabric, not me.  Or, well, it *is* me.  But it's the fabric too!

Update:  I ironed down the seams, per my lovely friend Julia.  Problem is this fabric really is impervious to ironing.  Still, they look better than they did yesterday:

Monday, July 11, 2011

A break from the introspective touchy-feely bullshit for a post on. . . GRAMMAR

A friend of mine who lives in Florida (I specify where she lives so that you don't think it was me) recently went into Spencer's gifts.  I can only imagine she accidentally turned into the shop because she hasn't slept more than 4 hours in a row for 11 months now. . .  because people don't go to Spencer's gifts on purpose, right?

So here's what she found:
Of course it's tacky.  It's in Spencer's, home of "Future MILF" and "BOOBS" t-shirts.  But really, I'm concerned about our future people.  This is exactly the kind of shitty bib some Sixteen and Pregnant or Teen Mom girl would slap on her baby (should she choose to nurse, that is). All of her friends who see it would giggle, "Oh, that's so silly!"  Strangers, even, might laugh.  "How funny!" they'll say. "The bib upon that child's chest is asking who has the breast the tiny thing must suckle for refreshment!"

Unless, of course, they know thing one about grammar, in which case they would lament the future of the apostrophe.  That sneaky little bastard has gone ninja on us all - appearing in the unlikeliest of places and absent where we expect it. The people who know about grammar would be a little sad because that bib doesn't make sense.

Anyone who knows me knows I don't have an issue with crass or tacky but I do have an issue with flogging the apostrophe.  That poor little piece of grammatical gold. Of course my grammatical issues (for those who don't see it - that bib reads "Who is boob do I have to suck to get a drink around here". Drop the apostrophe and add an se and you'll get the intended "Whose boob do I have to suck to get a drink around here.") don't even address the really atrocious things about that bib - for that, I'd have to get my friends the graphic artists and the typographers.

And none of it has to do with a joke about breastfeeding.  I mean really, Spencer's.  Even YOU are better than this, and you sell a game called "Pin the Cock on the Bachelor."

Friday, July 1, 2011

I'm feeling a bit of regret over my Mothering FAIL post.

It's one thing to have a mothering fail.  We all experience them daily.

It's another thing to post about it.

On the one hand, the story's kind of funny.  On the other hand, it makes me seem rather monstrous.  And look, I have a WIDE VARIETY of failings as a parent.  Some moments I do seem monstrous.  But I have one thing going for me: I wake up every morning asking myself how I can do this better.

Reflection and constant commitment to change - that's what's going to make me a better mother.  There's a confessional nature to my mothering FAIL post and it's true - I needed to confess.  Now that it's off my back, I can think that perhaps I've simply given my children something for their Sedaris or Kimmel (Haven not Jimmy) -style future memoirs.  One day, that snail story might be a best-seller.

And even then, it will cause me to reflect.  Respond.  And be a little sad.

Yesterday while cleaning the back porch I found a hammer in the rose bush (Don't ask. I don't know.  Honest to god.  The kids must've put it there.  They must've taken it out of the junk drawer to hit things. I don't know.  And it's not like I can yell at them for it, since nobody knows when it happened, right?  And besides, if I did, what am I going to say?  "We don't hit things with hammers, we just make stupid sputtering threats about it and never come through on them!"  Riiiiiiight).  And it made me sad, that stupid shiny misplaced hammer.

Because it's misplaced.  And stupid.

So I put it away.  Literally and metaphorically.  And now I'm going back to the books and saying to myself "How can I be good at this?"  Because clearly parenting doesn't come to me naturally.

Every day is an exercise in making sure that these moments are of love.  

Today, I revisit the mantra, the family mission:  Our family's mission: To be focused on peace, discipline, and simplicity. 

And  I say a little prayer.  Please, let me be worthy of such a task.  Failure is not an option.

Monday, June 27, 2011

An e-mail in the life of a teacher:

Dear teacher/prufessor/Mrs. Flugleir (or my personal favorite: Monica),

i saw on the schedul that the dates for the discussion assignment were wed/fri and then fri/sun and i wasn't sure which wun to use so i didn't post at all and i'm sending you this e-mail to explain that i will post now but i was confused about the dates.

also, you say we're studying chapter 9, evaluation but my book has chapter 8 as evaluation not chapter 9 which is something else. am i supposed to read chapter 9 or chapter 8 or how's that messed up and i noticed that the sample essays you talk about and say are on pages 300-311 are not actually in my book and pages 300-311 don't fit in chapters 7 8 or 9.  what's wrong here?

finally, i am going to be out of town on the day that the final essay is due and the second to final essy so can i turn them in at my convenience in November?

(No signature, of course, as I'm supposed to know who they are from their e-mail address which doesn't correspond with school documents).

NOTE: This is *not* an e-mail from my student.  It is a fictitious account of the types of e-mails I get from my students.  Because of privacy laws, I'm not allowed to share the actual stupid things they say.  So, to be fair, I made this one up by changing some words here and there, but trust me when I say, this is the compilation of three separate e-mails I've received over the weekend from students.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Without further adieu: Mothering FAIL

Or rather, I guess I should say mothering and language FAIL.  Or growth FAIL.  Or nurturing FAIL.  Or whatever.  I guess the point to remember is that I strive to be a good person and, like that old Muppets song goes: Everyone makes mistakes oh yes they do. Your sister and your brother and your Dad and Mother too.  Big People. Small People. Matter of fact all people. Everyone makes mistakes so why can't you.  But this failure is important to me and I'll tell you why:  Because I've been recently discussing language and being nice to the humans you love and how important it is not to be mean.  So when it happens to me - when I'm mean or cruel -  I'm humbled and saddened.

But I will say this:  It started with a near car-accident caused by noise and yammering from my 5 year old.  No, I will clarify further:  it was the result of total and absolute fear after my second near-miss in the car caused by yammering and fighting and noise and Ohmygodwouldyougetthatoutofthebaby'smouthrightnowbeforeshediesplease?

I know.  Excuses, excuses.  And now you think I'm going to say something like "And so I stopped the car and beat everyone."  But I didn't.  I just beat them up with my words and that's the FAIL.  But it's also kind of funny, the amalgam of idiocy at play and so I feel like I really need to share it.

So you know there was the stress from the near-car-accident.  You should also know that one thing I've said sometimes as a parent is I would like to hit that toy with a hammer.  Often I don't say it out of malice, it's just a thing I say when faced with a particularly irritating or annoying toy.  Or sometimes if, say, I've stepped on my fourth Lego of the day.  I'll scream One day, if you cannot respect and take care of your things, I will hit *insert thing here* with a hammer!

And on particularly bad days, you should know that I sometimes think of that *thing* that my children want more than anything else in the world.  And sometimes when that happens I say If you cannot respect the things that you have, I'm going to go get *insert thing they want most in the world* and hit it with a hammer.  No, it makes no sense.  I get that.  It's a total fail in terms of parenting to threaten the thing they don't even yet own because they can't respect the things that they do own.

But humans are not rational creatures.  In any way, shape, or form.  They're even less rational when they're going into their 3rd hour in the car, headed to their second omgreallyfun thing of the day, with the children who don't seem grateful for the fun, and they've just almost rolled into the street out of the McDonald's parking lot right into another vehicle (because of the potential car accident and omgIalmostspilledmycaramelicedcoffeefromMcDonalds).

Now I should tell you that the thing my 5 year old wants more than anything else in the world is a snail.

That's right.

I did it.

I nearly hit another car.  Then I came mommy-unglued and super ugly.  If I'd eaten pea soup in the past 24 hours, I might've spit it.  My head probably turned around once or twice.  And my son laughed because let's admit it - when mommies go all sputtering nonsense, it's funny.

And so I said:
I'm going to buy a snail and smash it with a hammer.

I'd like to say it's the weirdest thing I've ever said as a parent, but I'll be honest, it's one among dozens of regrettable phrases like The only things we flush down the toilet are pee and poop and When you're not sure whether it's poop or chocolate, you wash it off, you don't eat it.  It was irrational and stupid, triggered by being scared and being mad and being reminded that my children often know I'm more bark than bite.  They've always known it.  And it makes me feel powerless when I'm seat-belted into a car and unable, really, to do any sort of discipline whatsoever.

And I apologized.  And when the boy got his snail, the very first thing I said was I think he's cute.  I promise I will not hit him with a hammer.

Okay, really, I forgive myself.  But it's a good reminder that words can hurt.  Even when they're put together in bizarre and irrational phrases.  And the best lesson is the apology that followed and the hope that I can calm down and not do it again, right?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kid-ISMS, updates, and a True Mom Confession

Carter: blah blah de blah blah blah
Me:  Are you speaking in tongues? 
Carter:  Um.  No. I'm speaking in English.  With my tongue.  

Carter:  I wish I had a magic wand.  And I wish that it worked.  And if I had a magic wand that was real and it worked I would use it to turn you into Dad. 

Lilly: :patting my belly chub:  Awww wook, wouldn't it be neat if there was another wittle baby in dere?
Me:  That'd mean more sharing.  Even less time with Mom.  
Lilly:  That might be worth it. (Followed, of course, by a wink and a smile). 

Carter: MOM!  Elsa's finger is bleeding!!! :beat:  Oh, nevermind.  It's just pizza sauce. 
(and a week later)
Me: Honey, there's blood on your finger.  Go wash your hand. 
Carter: Nuh uh.  It's just pizza sauce.  (Puts finger in mouth).  Um.  Mom? 
Me: Yeah? 
Carter: I do not think that was pizza sauce. 

In update land: 
Elsa is nearly 7 months old. I have no idea where the time went.  She's trying to crawl.  
Carter is 5. He's lean and hilarious and more active than I ever imagined.  He's also the bug whisperer - or, rather, the animals-of-all-sorts whisperer.  While he's unable to find his own shoes on his own feet, he manages to find all sorts of bugs, a crawdad, butterflies, worms.  You name it and if it exists around here, chances are good that it's come to see Carter. 
Lilly is 8.  She's just digging in to book 5 of the Harry Potter series.  I'm in awe.  I can't get her to do much, but that girl will read.  And read some more. 

Now, for the True Mom Confession. 

Nah, I'm tired.  I'll save the True Mom Confession for tomorrow.  Suffice to say, it took me 3 days to tell Tim.  I need another 24 hours to tell you all.  FYI: Everyone is fine.  Safe.  Happy.  Well, happy-esque. . . mostly because they don't listen to me and my big mouth when it's wagging and frothing.  Probably because of the stupid shit that comes out of it sometimes. . . 

Friday, June 10, 2011

So I got this crazy fabric. . .

from the remnants section of Denver Fabrics.  I keep going through the tables and picking up fabrics - and then NOT sewing something right away, so I finally decided to do something with this.  It's a crazy black and white print.

I've wanted a maxi-skirt for awhile - and a swim coverup as well, so I figured what better time than the present to turn this fabric into something.  I looked around online at several tutorials and finally decided on one that was more mathematical equation than pattern.  I laid out the fabric and had JUST enough to make it happen, so I cut it out.  Blindly, really.  Then I decided it wasn't quite enough, so I put scraps into it to expand the bottom of the skirt.  I had a lot of problems with the top part - the waistband.  I wanted it to be stretchy but firm enough to act as a strapless dress if I wanted.  I tried an old t-shirt, but didn't like the thickness compared to the soft flowing rayon blend of the fabric, so I ultimately grabbed my Bella Band from my maternity clothes and here we are:

Sum total for this project:  The fabric cost about $3.50 and I used practically every square inch of it.  There's one scrap downstairs I might use to make a headband.  The Bella Band was originally $15, but keep in mind I used it through my pregnancy with Elsa (and afterward as a tummy cover-up when nursing).  And, of course, it took a little time as well.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oh, rainBOWS. . .

For whatever reason, I got a wild hair to make rainbow cupcakes.  I found a tutorial over on Living Eventfully and so I decided to give 'em a try.  Normally I make cakes from scratch, but normally we try to avoid chemicals and too much food coloring as well, so we'll just consider this a total break from our every day life.  The boy had his tonsils out last Thursday and is in need of both calories AND fun.

Fortunately, these had both.

Here are my ingredients.  Or, um, some of them. I bought a mini cupcake tin because let's be honest: it's time to make the move to minis over here.  I also bought an icing set, mostly because neat!  fun! 

 Following the directions, I put a scant cup of batter in each of 6 quart sized ziplocs and added the food coloring.  Then I closed the bags (carefully!) and squeezed them until the color was worked into the batter.  I do wish I would've made the green more vivid.  The original post calls for cake gel colorings, but I only had the wholly inferior liquid food coloring.  We survived.
 Here's all the little baggies with the colors mixed in.  I will tell you - that green is far from vivid enough, having seen the finished project.
 Then I started putting them in the pan.  On the minis, about a dime-sized sploosh.  On the bigger ones I played it by ear.
 I put all the leftovers in a mini loaf pan.  This would prove to be a delicious mistake.
 Here are the minis.  They took longer than I thought they would, probably because I kept peeking.
 There's that loaf pan.  I like to call it FrankenCake.
 Here's the side view of the Frankencake.  You can see that because it was overloaded, the bottom colors were pushed up and out the sides.
 Here are 4 of the minis frosted.  They're in metallic gold wrappers.
And here's one cut open.  Not a bad first run, I have to say -- first time making rainbow cupcakes, first time making cream cheese frosting, first time piping frosting on.  Overall, I'd say not so bad!

It's been awhile. . .

and I'll be honest, I'm revamping a bit.

Why?  Well, because I'm not knitting much.  I am, however, crafting other things - from Pioneer bonnets to rainbow cupcakes and I need to tell you all about it.

So I will.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

6 months and 1 day: A Letter To My Daughter:

Sweet Elsa:

Your 6 month mark nearly passed without notice as your brother got his tonsils out the day before.  He's a big ball of hurt and energy and he occasionally pokes at you in passing.  Please know that this violence is a form of love - unrestrained interest wrapped up in boyhood.  Also understand that the really big but not as big as Mom and Dad person who tries so hard to care for you exactly like we do - she's your sister.  And yes, she let you fall backward and bonk your head, but she loves you with a depth I don't quite understand.  And it, too, is awesome.

The cat has just taken notice of you - likely because he's an old man and only wants to be loved. He walks past you on the floor and dips his head down to rub yours and it's so cute I want to snuggle you both, but I realize you're all spit and he's all claws and that's a very dangerous combination.

Today I want to thank you.  Not for sleeping through the night or what have you - but for making me realize, through our journey to get you and through these last past six months - what luck - what a random lightning strike parenting is - and how I ought to be damned grateful for it.  My other two children came easily to me and my biggest failing as a parent, probably, was taking that for granted.

Of course this doesn't mean you'll be showered with gifts or spoiled rotten - but you might well be gifted with a mother who seeks daily to make herself worthy of this crazy random happenstance.  I want to be a good mom to you - and your siblings - now that I realize what a randomly assigned miracle you all are and how many people in this world would give anything to have just a small piece of what I have.

So thank you.  I'll never say that the long journey to you was a fun experience - but I WILL say that it was good for me in that it made being a mom matter to me in ways I never really anticipated.

So here's to the first six months.  Let's push on into the next half of the first year and please, as you grow, remind me of all of the growing that I need to do.

Friday, May 27, 2011

When Facebook goes wrong. . .

Awhile back, I wrote this post wherein I identified our family's new mission statement as: To be focused on peace, discipline, and simplicity. I continue to struggle with what it means to act under this new mission.  How can we focus our lives on peace, discipline, and simplicity?

Recently, based on some interactions I've had on Facebook, I've gone through a bit of reflection on social media and the internet as a whole - what it contributes to my life and whether, in the end, it's good for me.  Obviously, blogging and interacting online is a hobby of mine, but in the end - does it contribute?  How so?  Can it be better?  Can I ensure that it only adds to the peace, discipline, and simplicity in my life?

I have long been a member of a private group of ladies who came together with common loves:  Parenting and Debate.  They are a fantastic bunch who have, over the years, grown to be much more than internet friends.  Real friends.  Several years ago these real friends came to me - many of them privately and gently encouraging me to reflect upon my online persona - and how that online persona handled and treated them which was - I'll admit it - very poorly.  Our mundane conversations about how to hang the toilet paper or children's developmental milestones unfolded for them one side of me - while our conversations regarding potential hot topics unfolded an entirely other me - one who was combative and rude, that made personal attacks rather than focusing on ideas.  This persona was doing grave damage to my friends' ability to enjoy my presence in their lives - and many of them encouraged me to do a little soul-searching. Awhile later, after we experienced our first of what would come to be four miscarriages, I began to engage with another group of awesome women - ladies who held my hand and walked me through one of the toughest periods of my life.  And Facebook - a whole other world of positive influence, allowing me to foster relationships I'd let die on the vine and unearthing new commonalities among old friends.

Unfortunately, over these past few years an uglier side of social media has come to my attention - one that greatly disturbs the peace in my heart, mind, and household.

The uglier side of social media - of course - that negative online persona rearing its head among those I love.  My friends encouraged me several years ago to remember that if I would not say something to a person's face, I should probably not type it and let it loose on the web.  And they are right.  I try hard to abide that now - particularly when I disagree with someone.  This has allowed me to deepen and expand friendships with ladies with whom I have serious political and parenting disagreements - but with whom I have other awesome connections.  But not everybody follows this rule.

Some people seem to be more open with their judgement, meanness, and bigotry online than they ever would admit to in real life. Or worse, our conversations simply haven't covered that material and they might actually say some of the horrible stuff they post on Facebook to my face. 

Of course the solution to that is obvious:  on internet message boards, utilize the "Hide" feature and eradicate that person from your internet life.  On Facebook, simply defriend them.

But what do you do when those people are family?  How do you interact with them on the behemoth that is Facebook without taking some of the things that they say personally, particularly when those things are meant to be taken personally or violate what you consider to be some basic rules for living?

And ultimately:  How do I reconcile those interactions with my quest for peace, discipline, and simplicity?

So, you know, THAT happened. . .

(Please note, this post was originally written on 5/5)

Last weekend, THAT happened.  And please don't misunderstand me when I say that while good is not the adjective I would use, I think necessary is the right word.  His presence on this planet increased the likelihood of bad things happening to the people of the world and his absence makes that a little less likely.

So, you know, cool.

But now I struggle with how to reconcile my internal fist-pumping "YAHOO!" with what I want to teach my children about people, about forgiveness, about being a good Christian - or not even from a Christian perspective - about being a good human.  About the root of goodness.

Believe me when I say it's a struggle to reconcile that initial jubilant feeling with the subsequent moral heaviness of what it means to be a person who joyfully celebrates the ending of another life.  It's led me down a road wherein I examine my current stance on, say, the death penalty.  Even abortion.  And I think that a little moral inventory is good - necessary - and important for human growth.

While I was doing all of that and exploring the moral issue of torture (which inevitably arises in the wake of this event, thanks to "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques"), I was told by someone who I love very much that my cynicism in the face of torture is "pathetic. Sometimes you guys make me just want to throw up."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I'm cleaning the basement . . . so. . . NEW RULES:

If it's on the floor of the basement in a messy pile, I don't care how much you *say* you love it.  I get to trash it or give it away. Precious things are treated with care.

If it's broken?  Trash.

If it was produced before 1990 and it's NOT memorabilia?  Trash or Goodwill.

If it was produced by you, I'll take a photograph of it before I trash it.  I love you and I love the things you make.  I love them more on photo DVD.

If it hasn't fit for one full season?  GONE.  Also?  Those tattered princess dresses are only going to make your baby sister feel like a loser.  Let's start over, ok?

And for the rest of the world:  I. Hate. Our. Basement.  'Nuff said.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In six days. . . my anniversary.

I promise, I won't get too sickly sweet, but I have to tell you: I married the best man for me.  I really did.

And I also have to tell you that last year we forgot our anniversary so this year, for about the past month, we're counting down together every few days, saying "X days to our anniversary!" and on and on like that.  On that night, it's likely we'll do little more than watch Top Chef Masters or something. . . but we'll remember it, so we're already on better footing than we were last year.

Unless, of course, we forget.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Watched Happy Endings (a post about Motherhood and TV, two things I like best!)

We watched 2 episodes of the new comedy Happy Endings this week.  Overall?  Interesting.  And not in The Cape's "I'll give it a try because I really like sci-fi/comic book movies".  Really interesting. Kinda funny.  Quirky. I won't say much except that it's up at Hulu. Give it a look-see and let me know what YOU think.  When they cut to the main guy in the HERS bathrobe in his bedroom during the pilot with some fantastic music in the background, I kinda wept with joy a little.  I'll keep watching and hope that we didn't blow through the best ideas in the first two episodes.

I mention it, of course, because one of the characters had this great line about having babies and moving to the suburbs and suddenly it being 5 years later and having butch mom hair while driving a red minivan and I was all "OMGOMGOMG THIS SHOW SPEAKS TO ME!"

Why is that?  Well, I recollect a time in my life when living in my cute turn of the century Cherry Creek home, mere weeks before my first child was born and saying to my husband You know, some people just allow their homes to be taken over by toys and children.  I never want to be one of those people.  Ever. 

A mere year later, that self-same chic Cherry Creek living room, with the wide doorway between the fireplaced sitting room and the full dining room was walled in with backward bookshelves, a coffee table in front of the fireplace, a baby gate across the other large entryway to keep the baby off the stairs, and a thick carpet of toys, books, and half-saliva-soaked cheerios covering 75% of the floor.

I don't generally walking around saying to Moms-to-be "When you have kids, you'll understand" because generally that's dosed out with a large amount of preemptive judgment and bitchiness, but I can say this - until I had kids, the Happy Endings girl's freak-out was exactly how I felt as well - but a mere year later, when I was swallowed by the momness of it all, I wasn't upset in the least.

Had my standards fallen?  I don't think so.  My expectations, wants, needs, they all changed.  I didn't understand until I was a mom.  And again, not in a judgmental way, but in the way that, say, you don't understand that the world holds nearly 100 flavors of Kit Kat bars (so I've heard, but I don't *get* it, you know?) until you visit Japan home of the Green Tea and Corn flavored Kit Kats.

If you want to talk about standards falling, let's talk about now.  I'm not only the woman who I was once terrified of - I'm the woman who once repulsed me - wearing a maternity tank & avalanche pants covered in baby spitup, hair in a ponytail, watching the baby roll around on a crumby floor, still mulling over whether simply flipping the baby-spitup-covered pillow was the right call at 3 am or proof that I've fallen and can't get up.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not feeling sorry for myself or where I am.  Baby spit-up isn't to endure, it's to celebrate.  It's awesome.  It's a totally different life. And please note: not better or worse than someone who lives differently than I.  Just different.  *I* happen to love it in ways I did NOT love life before the kids took over, though you will note: I do not yet drive a minivan.  I'm fighting that one tooth and nail.

But the minivan hatred aside (a hatred that will one-day be consumed with squeals of "Oh my god there's SO MUCH ROOM!!!"), the me of 10 years ago would be utterly appalled at the me of today.  And you know what?  She can suck an egg, man.  Because the me of today is covered in baby spit and loving it.

My buddy is set to have a baby in an hour or so and I feel the deep need to give her a shout out during this terrifying and awesome time.  Congrats and welcome to the ride, friend.  You never know, you might end up in a minivan. . .

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Okay, I've gone radio silent

but I'm exhausted.

I promise I'll post again soon, I will.  But right now, I'm all-on-all-the-time between the kiddos & teaching.  It's also National Poetry Month (yay APRIL!) - so I've promised myself I'd write a poem a day for the whole month.  So far ok.  See the tab at the top of the page - NaPoWriMo.  I'm particularly proud of the latest series of 4 - for the kids.  It's definitely grist for the mill - in May, I'll spend time revising and polishing what I've made.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

We're on the road to nowhere. . .

Truly.  But it doesn't matter where we're going or where we've been - it matters how we choose to walk together along that road.

Which is why the Mr. and I have decided to create that family mission statement I last posted about.  Further, it gives us a language to use together - free of judgement ("Don't be such a jerk to your sister!") and full of investment ("Is this behavior reflective of our goals as a family?").  As Lilly and Carter get older, I struggle between the parent I seem to be naturally (which is, I'll admit it, of highly inferior quality) and the parent I seek to be (which is not perfect, but much, much better than my natural state).  I would like my parentING to be mindful of who I strive to be - because I believe that, with practice, I can be a much better parent - and person.

When I was brainstorming ideas for our family mission, I was focused on the words peace, harmony, and love.  The Mr. added the idea of discipline - something that many of the members (myself included) of this family lack.  It is an honorable goal and now it's among ours.

Our family's mission: To be focused on peace, discipline, and simplicity.

(And in honor of that last part, I decided to make our mission statement as short and sweet as possible.)

Our next act is, as a family, to sit down and discuss what that looks like - how do we foster peace, discipline, and simplicity in the world?  I look forward to the conversation if I can ever get people to stop interrupting and burping long enough to have it.  Perhaps I should add respect - though I suspect that can be covered under "discipline".

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mad props to Mr. Thoreau

When I became Elsa’s mom, I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life with my husband and children, and see if I could not learn what they had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life...

Yeah, yeah, I know I changed it. Deal with it, traditionalists.

I want to write a family mission statement, because I feel like we've been sometimes losing our way with each other, with ourselves, and not to good ends.  I want to raise my children deliberately. To tend my marriage deliberately.  To create real and lasting poetry on the page and in my arms with thoughtfulness and care. All too often these days, I bounce through life parenting by reaction, loving in response, and wasting time on things that, ultimately, do NOT do me or my family justice.

I want to downsize, to treat our remaining things with care, to treat each other with care, to work the soil together, to work cultivating college minds but also to focus on cultivating my little ones' minds.  I want to play more - to ACTUALLY play. 

I do not wish to live what is not life and I've done far, far, far too much of that lately.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


So, about a little over a year and a half ago I wrote a post on "Life isn't bliss, life is just this: it's living" from Once More With Feeling, Joss's Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical.

And you know what?  Right now?  Life is a whole lot of messy living.  Today the baby pooped and it leaked through her diaper and, I thought, onto my pants.  Turns out that which was on my pants was *only* spitup - an accoutrement I've grown so accustomed to that I barely flinch at it anymore. My laundry closet is overflowing. I'm on hour 96 of some tummy bug and now my sinuses are burning with -- allergies.  The kids are on spring break which means EVERYONE is insane.

But at night when I flop into my bed exhausted and get ready for the OTHER work of my day - keeping the little one pleased and sleeping through the night, I lay back and reflect on the fact that for me, right now, Spike's wrong.  This life is bliss.

If you would've told me 10 years ago that I would find this to be blissful living, I would've cold-cocked you, but today I know - the twists, the turns, the unexpected pregnancy, the shocking losses, the business ups and downs, the hard work for little pay with my teaching gig - it's messy, messy living - but given an opportunity to reflect?

Total heaven.

A big thank you to the man upstairs for each breath, for the lightning strike children that run through my household, and for those around me who make each and every day total messy, exhausting, frustrating bliss.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The mommy blogs are alive. . . with the sound of. . .

judgement.  And of course I have to chime in.  I'm not going to judge, for the record, but more jazz-riff off of what she wrote.

Here is the article in question.  Here is a follow up. I've been sitting here this morning reflecting on what this mother has to say. Because I teach writing, I've been contemplating the word love and what she means by that and because I'm a parent, I'm wondering if she meant like instead of love. Maybe not.  I don't know.  Who am I to say.  I didn't honestly have much to say, really, until I read her follow up wherein she claims that the rest of us mothers have these ugly thoughts too and we ought not get too judgmental of her and if we don't like what she has to say, we should probably keep our mouths shut.

And anyone who knows me knows darned well that the best way to get me to start talking is to tell me to shut up.

So in response to her first entry, I have to say I have not had moments when I thought "I love my son more."  I have often wondered if I'm more bonded to him, due to our failed epidural and the post-birth high that accompanies a natural birth.  Or whether I was more bonded to my daughter who I nursed for nearly three years whereas I lost my patience with nursing my son at 14 months. I daily wonder which child I like better and let me be clear: that changes moment to moment to moment, though overall I am in utter wonder of both of them.  I love and like both of them deeply -- and not in the same ways but not comparable in a quantifiable less or more sort of way. 

When I do have rare moments of quantification - of I love him less or I love her less, I often reflect on the fact that what I'm feeling in my heart might well be manifesting in my actions toward my children- and whether it can be fixed by changing those actions.  I watched a documentary once on oxytocin - it's considered a sort of love hormone - and the most successful relationships have high levels of individually programmed oxytocin responses. How do we program oxytocin response?  By touching.  When I'm feeling less loving toward one of my children (or, frankly, my husband for that matter), I correct what I'm feeling in my heart by acting more loving - by hugging more - snuggling more - by spending more time with that child (or my spouse).

In other words, the relationship is what I make of it - and while I do not attempt to love my children the same or treat them the same (after all, they are different people with different needs and desires), I love them with equal ferocity.  If or when that love begins to fade - it's my job to reignite it.

This woman is pregnant again - with a third child - and expressed in her blog that she hopes it's a girl so she can start over on that girl/mom relationship and hopefully do it right.  Anyone who knows me can probably guess how I'm going to respond to that.  Gender preference is far from my thing.  But more than that, using one child to cure the ills of another relationship is never, ever, ever going to work.

When I discovered that Tenacious E was a girl, I worried that my relationship with her might suffer like my relationship with MonkeyMoo sometimes does. Based on his age, I think The Budge and I did have a closeness that was fading with MonkeyMoo.  But rather than thinking of Tenacious E's arrival as an opportunity to fix what was wrong with MonkeyMoo, I saw it as a daily reminder to fix what could go wrong with all three relationships.  A cautionary reminder to daily strive to be a better parent to all of my children.

I know that this woman is feeling the sting of the blogosphere right now - and I want you to know that I truly and honestly do not judge her, I just wish she'd take this monster down, wrestle it out of herself through her actions, rather than parading it through her blog.  And I hope, above all else, that one day she'll erase that blog so that her daughter might never, ever see it.  It's one thing to discuss these issues quietly with friends.  It's another to commit them to permanence, to highlight them, to loudly and proudly discuss them.

I cannot imagine as a daughter reading that one day.  It's hard enough to be a functioning member of a family, to be a woman in this world.  How heartbreaking would it be to see in print that your mom loved your brother more than you - and that rather than redoubling her efforts to love you - she wrote it out and shared it with the world.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I've recently noticed. . .

that in the Hulu tv show vote-a-thon, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is currently losing to Modern Family.

I do not understand this world.

There's so much more I could say about the truly unfair and devastating things happening to the people around me - but I want to keep it light, so we'll just focus the thing that allows me to be irrationally huffy in the face of video and testimony about Japan, my friends' heartbreaking pregnancy complications, and the other things in this world that just hurt my heart.  Screw that, I'm sticking to comedy.  And in that comedy face off, It's Always Sunny should be KING.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Grab a mint julep, your quiet voice, and a comfy chair, kids,

Cuz I'm about to tee off on the subject of gender.

A woman (we'll call her, I don't know, Silly Sally) somewhere said something so offensive, I just had to step in and say something - and because my parents taught me if you can't say anything nice to someone you shouldn't say it at all, I've decided to write it.  So Silly Sally says she wants to have another child to "try for a boy".  Silly Sally has always imagined "wearing a jersey at a football game on a Friday night."

Here's the thing:  I know there are people out there like me who feel like this - but I have honestly and genuinely NEVER had a gender preference when I was pregnant.  EVER.  When I found out MonkeyMoo was a girl, I cried with the knowledge that I'd reap what I sowed and more as payback for *my own* teen years.  When I found out The Budge was a boy, I wept with the knowledge that I had no idea what to do to raise a boy (turns out, it's quite similar to how you raise girls: love, food, change diapers, love some more.  Who knew!).  When I found out Tenacious E was a girl, I wept at the sight of that beating heart, those kidneys, and fingers, and leg bones all in the right places and the long 20 weeks to come while we waited and waited for her safe arrival.

Some women go through losses and realize that gender preference is stupid.  Others don't need losses to realize that a child is a blessing regardless of their dangly (or non dangly) bits.  But there are still some people in the world who have gender preferences.  I guess that's their choice - and that's fine.  I'd rather be elated at the positive anatomy scan than the actual anatomy itself, so insignificant is it, I feel, to my ability to enjoy a child.

But for those who *do*, well, let's revisit Silly Sally and her imagined future of "wearing a jersey on a Friday night game."  I'm going to be honest - I've never held that preference and it's a damn good thing because my children weren't blessed with an overabundance of height or grace.  I doubt they'll be swimmers or football players.  Maybe chess.  Are there jerseys for Chess Moms?  Seeing as how my boy has a preference for Show tunes and wearing his rainbow silk cape or his sister's dresses, I have no idea right now whether he'll play sports or be in show choir.  And - wait for it -


Similarly, my daughter seems to be attracted to team sports like basketball and soccer.  God only knows why - if she weren't so like me in every other way, I'd wonder who switched her at birth.  She may well be into team sports and end up being the water girl for some actual team sport and I may well need to don a jersey on Friday nights to show my commitment to her.  And you know what?  I hate jerseys, but I'll do it.  For her.

My point?  It's around here somewhere, I know it.  Oh, yeah, my point is this, Silly Sally:  You may have a gender preference (though I think you shouldn't) but it's unbelievably unfair to weigh your child down with the detritus that goes along with that preference.  Just because you have a boy doesn't mean he'll be playing sports.  Maybe he'll be singing.  Dancing.  Maybe, just maybe, he'll be sitting alone on Friday nights playing Call of Duty with some guy from Luxembourg. Maybe he'll be the state champion in Chess.  Who knows what he'll be - and honestly, it's unfair for you to put those expectations upon him before he's little more than an XY sperm that might one day meet an egg.

Meanwhile, look hard at your daughters.  They might cook.  They might do ballet.  But they may well be the next NCAA college football kicker.  Or cause controversy in the State Wrestling championships in Iowa.  Who knows what they will be - or CAN be - particularly if you stack the deck in your expectations that with penis comes sports.

The only way for your girls to know that they can - or your boys to know that there are alternatives - is for you, Silly Sally, to stop saying shit like "We might try for another baby because I want a boy."

One of my favorite recent parenting experiences was watching three girls (one mine) dress up in wacky outfits and do battle on the field of the backyard while the boy child sat with my newborn girl and smiled, laughed, and nurtured her.  THIS is what I want for my kids, Silly Sally.  What do you want for yours?

(You should know, for the record, that Silly Sally's reasoning for wanting another child is because she wants A BOY CHILD.  And if she had another girl, she expressed disappointment that her husband would be done because SHE WOULD WANT TO TRY AGAIN FOR A BOY.  And she would "learn to deal" with having only girls.)

Monday, February 28, 2011

One minute she's happy

and then - without the courtesy of an eye rub or a yawn, she's 15lbs of red-eyed screaming, kicking, overly-tired sadness.

And I am prone to taking that personally which is about the most stupid thing a parent could do, isn't it?  Unfortunately, issues of sleep don't inspire rationality on the part of, well, anyone.  There's a reason one of our favorite forms of accepted torture is leaving the lights on and keeping people awake.  Eventually it is physically painful.

I'm not going to complain today, though.  That's not why I'm writing today.  I'm writing today because I noticed something when that screaming ball of tired took the paci and fell asleep.  And it was amazing.

She got lighter.  Softer and snuglier, I expected.  I did not expect this feeling of lightness - the full trust and faith she has in me - and how her whole body just. . . releases. I can't help but feel as though there's a metaphor for faith in all of this, but today's not the day I'm going to make it.  Today I'm just going to feel her lightness and recognize that if I had an easy sleeper she'd be in the crib and not in my arms and all of this would have escaped me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ssssssshhhhhhh. . . I'm hiding in the shower.

Or, rather, I was hiding. From the 3 month old baby.  Or,well, not really,I guess I was hiding from life.  For just a few minutes.  Don't get me wrong, I adore my life, I do.  I love teaching and blogging and raising kids.  It's unbelieveably awesome.

But my god this to-do list.  Holy crap.

First there's the have to do.  Then it's the really should do.  Also the honestly if you don't do it the place will fall apart.  That other sticky note?  That's the if you do this the short people will stop screaming at you list.

My to-do list is simply a list of lists.   My husband's favorite movie is Inception and I swear to you, our lists are working the same way - except rather than lengthening time each time we uncover a list below a list, we dramatically shorten it.  And there's no kick to escape from it all.

But there is the shower.  Why do I like the shower?  Because in the shower I cannot read the lists, nor can I attempt to do, half-heartedly, stuff from five different lists.  I can only shower. Is it any wonder today's was long enough as to be just a tiny bit shameful?  Oh the wasted water.  And time.  Wasting things wasn't on any of my lists today.

Off to find a Sharpie and reorganize my lists.  So very much easier than tackling them.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

To the woman at Cilantros -

You over there.  The one with the quads.  I'm certain you get a lot of attention and I'm even more certain that your journey to parenthood was rife with struggle and pain.  Perhaps losses.  Perhaps infertility.  Perhaps both.

Mine was too.

But this isn't about your four children of the same age or my three children 4 years apart in age.  This is about your eyes.  Rolling.  While looking my way.  While the entire restaurant shuddered under the deafening tones of the emergency escape alarm that my son set off with his butt.

It is about you judging me.

And it is about karma.

And finally comes this:  One day you will not remember this moment as one or two or three or four of your children do something stupid and asinine, something so unbelieveably embarassing you can only do what I was doing when you rolled your eyes at me: stare blankly at the restaurant of people and think to yourself "I cannot wait to post about this on Facebook." When that moment happens, I will know.  An excited tickle will crawl up my spine and I will know that you, too, are finally and fully a parent.

God bless you.  God bless those beautiful babies.  And God bless the moment you discover yourself a teensy tiny bit less judgmental of all parents.
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